Friday, November 29, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Knits, knit and more knits!

Recently, I became a leggings and t-shirt machine. In the wintertime, I love to wear leggings -- whether I'm working at home and wearing leggings and a shawl, or going out with a shirt dress and boots, leggings are warm and wonderful. My old store-bought leggings were starting to get holes and get stretched out, so it was time to make some!

My pattern of choice is the Jalie leggings pattern. It's one pattern piece and two seams -- I can whip out pairs of these leggings like nobody's business.

The sizing for these is great, too. You size by your hip measurement and length -- and there are about a million sizes included in the pattern. This was my first Jalie pattern, but I love the heavy paper they print on. I've made four pairs of these leggings and the pattern is still in great shape.

I made these out of some yoga-pants-esque fabric I found in Chic Fabrics in New York, so they're a little thicker than most of my store-bought leggings, which I appreciate. I had two yards and I managed three pairs of leggings. I also made up a pair in fleece-backed lycra I purchased at Fabric Mart in Pennsylvania. Talk about snuggly!

The only change I made to the pattern was to cut the elastic much larger. Elastic waistbands with negative ease bother my tummy (yeah I'm a wuss) so I cut my elastic waistband in the exact measurement of my waist so it barely stretches. They look a little weird flat, but these are the most comfortable leggings I've ever owned.

I've also made quite a few Renfrews lately. This one is my absolute favorite. Fabric Mart, if you've never been there, is an online fabric retailer, but you are allowed to shop their warehouse (whuuut!) Any remnants they have (i.e. like 5 yards left on the bolt), they sell for $2 a yard. I picked up a ton of t-shirt knits. This one is a great weight and feel. It serged like a dream.

I know I probably sound like a Sewaholic saleslady, but damn I love their patterns.

So proud of this neckline -- this is my best Renfrew.


This long-sleever is some lovely knit I picked up in New York with the crew on Male Pattern Boldness Day. (I asked Peter if it was too bright -- at the time I was wearing a pink dress and carrying a hot pink Kate Spade bag -- he looked at me and went "You wear a lot of pink, don't you?" No idea why he'd think THAT!)

This fabric is super cute -- the little black dots are actually tiny velvet hearts. I got this fabric at Elfreide's in Colorado.

 The neckline topstitching is a little wavy, so we won't look too closely, here, but I still love this one and I wear it all the time.

And finally, my first Renfrew, which I realized never made an appearance on the blog. I don't wear it much because it came out kind of funky. I was having trouble with my serger tension that day.

I love the neckline, though. I'll have to make another now that I'm a little better with the pattern.

So there you have it, folks! Knit essentials for everyday life.  Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday and are enjoying your own comfy knits and easy waistbands today. ;)

Also, haven't heard from Kim about the giveaway. I'll choose another winner if I don't hear soon.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Things I've Sewn Lately: Oscar de la Renta New Look 6223 (Also,Giveaway Winner!)

I am so in love with this dress -- and so sad that I probably won't get to wear it again until it warms up! I made it for the rehearsal luncheon for Andrew and Caren's wedding

The fabric is a gorgeous Oscar de la Renta twill from Mood. The bodice is lined with white cotton (that happens to have started life as a King-sized sheet at Ikea in the As-Is bin -- hey, it's 100% cotton!) 

The twill is slightly stretchy and does not wrinkle. I wore it on a four-hour drive to Pennsylvania on rehearsal luncheon day and was able to step out of the car, shake the skirt a bit and look like I'd just ironed it. 

I used New Look 6223, which is a great basic dress pattern. I made the cap-sleeve view, but the pattern includes a sleeveless option and a side ruched option, as well as a three-quarter sleeve.

The skirt, which from the pattern art looks gathered, actually is pleated, which is a much nicer option for such a heavy fabric, in my opinion.

While I loved the pattern pieces and the cut of the dress, I do not recommend this pattern if you're either the type of person who likes a clean inside to their garment or the type who needs to follow directions.

The pattern instructions directed you to attach the bodice lining at the neckline and then create the sleeves separately (with lining) and sew them together. Which would leave a raw edge. A raw edge on the underarm in a LINED dress? No thanks. What's the point of lining then? 

I MacGyvered a solution so that the lining completely covered the inside and there are no raw edges. I also enclosed the invisible zipper because I love the clean look the enclosed zipper gives to the inside of the garment. I serged all the skirt seams and the waist seam with white thread. I love it when everything matches, don't you?

I also had an issue where I got the waist seams matching and one side of the bodice ended up over an inch taller than the other side. I have no idea why/how that happened. Totally bizarre. I ended up picking out the top of the dress on the left side, cutting off a chunk, eyeballing the curve to get it back to the neckline and just went with it.

The dress came with pockets, though, so that kind of makes up for it?

Despite all the issues I had with this pattern, I'm sure I'll make it again, just because I think the dress is flattering and it fits well. Plus, forewarned is forearmed, right? I also imagine that the sleeveless version would be a little bit less tricky.

In general, though, I love this dress, mostly because of the fabric. I rarely wear prints, but this one just spoke to me!

ALSO: The winner of last week's blog giveaway is Kim! (You all should totally check out her blog -- it's awesome.) Email your address to aleksandra(dot)robinson(at) and I'll send your prize ASAP. Congratulations! :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Year of Sewing Blogging and a Giveaway!

The dress that started it all.
My "blogiversary" was on Oct. 25, and, in general, I don't usually think too hard about post counts and anniversaries. Lately, however, I've been thinking a lot about how sewing has changed my life in the past year.

Mostly without meaning to do so, I've gone an entire year without purchasing clothing. Well, I have purchased exactly two items in the past year: a pair of running shorts over the summer and a silk shell to wear with my suit last January.

That, to me, someone who loves clothing, is incredible. Nearly unbelievable. I didn't set out to fulfill a challenge or test myself. I just didn't buy anything. And, to be honest, it was really easy.

At the best of times, I don't really love shopping for clothing. I'm taller than the average American woman and I'm pear-shaped, so I have a difficult time finding clothing that fits and flatters me. Most shopping just used to depress me.

These days, I can make most of whatever I want. In the last year, I've conquered most of my sewing fears. Like fly-front welt-pocket shorts:

A lined jacket with a hood:

A swimsuit:

And an entire month of wearing me-made clothing.

A large part of that is due to the amazing online sewing community. Everyone talks about this all the time, but the level of love and support in the sewing community is awe-inspiring. Instagram and Twitter offer tons of encouragement, as do blog comments and my local sewing group on Facebook. Plus, it's always inspiring to get to meet your favorite online bloggers in person.

Sewing has made me confident in my body and in my clothing. I have many fewer "fat" days than I used to. If something doesn't fit, I fix it. But mostly, since I'm sewing to my own measurements, my stuff fits. No more "this is a 6, yay!" or "I can only wear an 8 at this store, sad." I mean... how crazy is that? We should all know now that the numbers don't mean anything, but boy is it easy to get sucked into them. I can't be alone here, why else would stores use vanity sizing?

Anyway, as a thank you to the general sewing community (and because I've won two sewing giveaways this year!) I'm doing a small giveaway of my own.


The winner of this giveaway will get 2.5 yards of slightly stretchy coral cotton (pre-washed), three Butterick patterns (a skirt, a coat and a vintage reproduction dress), a package of lace hem tape and a handful of random buttons from my button stash.

All you need to do to win is leave a comment on this post by Friday, Nov. 22 at midnight. On Saturday, I'll use a random number generator to choose a winner. One entry per person, please!

Good luck! And thanks for being awesome, sewing community!

Edited to add: I'll ship anywhere in the world, so go ahead and enter, no matter where you live. :)